ABVP Attacks FTII Students For Inviting Kabir Kala Manch

August 23, 2013 at 9:15 AMAug (Activism, Cinema, Friends, Letter, Media, Music, Slice Of Life)

1175355_653737214636284_418472786_nPune: Five students of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) were attacked in the premises of the National Film Archives of India (NFAI) here on Wednesday, 21 August by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).

The attack took place soon after the screening of filmmaker Anand Patwardhan’s documentary Jai Bhim Comrade and the performance of Kabir Kala Manch at NFAI. The programme was organized by the FTII student’s body in association with Yugpath, a youth forum based in Pune. This was the first public performance of Kabir Kala Manch after two and a half years.

The screening of the documentary and the performance by Kabir Kala Manch was finalised two weeks ago. There was a request to cancel the programme from various quarters respecting the call for bandh as a mark of protest against the murder of anti-superstition activist Narendra Dhabolkar. But Yugpath and the FTII student’s body decided to stick to their plan and go ahead with the screening and performance as a mark of respect and homage to Dhabolkar.

According to Kislay, one of the organisers of the programme, the “ABVP hooligans” walked out of the screening and waited for three hours outside the NFAI premises for the programme to get over to confront the Kabir Kala Manch artists and the organizers. Around 12 of them started crying slogans such as “Bharat Maata Ki Jai” “Vande Mataram” and “Down down Naxals.” which sparked a confrontation between theABVP members and the FTII students, Kislay says. While students Shameen, Ansar Sha, Kislay and Ajayan were hit by sticks holding the saffron flags that the ABVPmembers were carrying, Sriram Raj was attacked with a helmet on his head causing a serious head injury which had to be immediately attended to in a nearby hospital.

Ajayan who also got beaten up said that his cry for help went unanswered even by the police. Many students confirmed the presence of the police outside the NFAI campus minutes before the attack took place. Ajayan said that the attack was not a spontaneous reaction but a well thought out and planned attack.

The FTII students have lodged a complaint against the ABVP at the Prabhat Police Station. The students said they viewed the attack not just against an attack on their freedom of speech and expression but also as an indication of the growing fascist forces that had also allegedly, murdered Dhablokar just the previous day in the city.

Interestingly, the members of ABVP have also filed complaints against the students of FTII at the Prabhat Police Station. They alleged that two of their members were injured and had to be hospitalised, while protesting the participation of an objectionable group (Kabir Kala Manch) in a programme organized by FTII, which is a Central government institute, “ABVP activists did not beat up FTII students. They might have hit Kabir Kala Manch artists after being hit by them first,” Vivekanand Ujalambkar,ABVP Pune Unit Secretary said.

Meanwhile, the Student’s Association of FTII issued a statement condemning the incident and added, “We the students are extremely distressed at this incident. How long can this hooliganism carry on?”

Neeraj Jain of Lokayat, an activist group based out of Pune, condemned the attack on the students and said, “It is a democratic set up and one has the democratic right to perform. ABVP cannot act like the police. When the judiciary has let the members of Kabir Kala Manch on bail what right does ABVP have to question their right to perform?

Playwright Makarand Sathe reacting to the incident said he condemns it and added, “Attacking artists is more condemnable because it is they who create a space for dialogue in a democratic society. Closing down of such spaces for dialogue by any fascist forces, driven whichever specific ideology, is a far bigger threat than it looks on surface.

Ajayan and Kislay speak: click here

Kislay speaks: click here

Press release: click here

(An edited version of this report was published in Tehelka daily)

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“Kulya Na Karo Jhapiyan Paya Karo”

August 8, 2013 at 9:15 AMAug (Cinema, Friends, Literature, Media, Musings, Poetry, Slice Of Life, Soliloquy)

When all are tipsy and dancing, out of nowhere, a finger points at the Muslim boy from J&K and a voice takes wings, “Bolo Pakistan murdaabaad.” The boy from J&K stops dancing and says, “Pakistan Zindaabaad.” The four other fingers join the finger pointing at the boy. The hand extends. Slap. “Say, Hindustaan zindaabaad.” The boy from J&K is angered by the nationalism that stands on the legs of hate politics. He raises his voice to say, “Hindustaan murdaabaad.” He is slapped again.

More than often for a lot many people, expressing hatred towards Pakistan is the way to express love for India/ Hindustan. Love for one’s nation is mixed and mistaken with/ for hatred for another nation. Hate is the driving force for love. Love leads to hatred and thus defeats itself.

Abdul Khaliq (1)When such regressive thoughts and actions happen at one of the premier Institutes grooming filmmakers it is quite worrisome because its these minds which will be creating the imageosphere (I beg your indulgence to be allowed to use this term image + sphere like atmosphere and biosphere, to stress on the images bombarded on our minds from all possible sides in form of advertisements  films, photographs etc) which will be influencing the collective consciousness. It is to be understood that the Institute is located within the larger social set up and not divorced from it hence what it reflects is what the society holds within it. So our popular culture, our imageosphere and our society are constantly reflecting each other.

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, a film by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and written by Parsoon Joshi, which has been doing well at the box office is biopic of Milkha Singh who was popularly known as the Flying Sikh. A victim of Indo-Pak partition Milkha Singh was given the title of Flying Sikh by the then Pakistan General Ayub Khan after the race he won against Abdul Khaliq, a tough competitor from Pakistan, in the year 1960 in Pakistan. Milkha Singh had to be persuaded by the then Prime Minister of India, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru to participate in the Pakistan tour for he was, even after 13 years, being haunted by the memories of partition.

With this thread/ plot Parsoon Joshi has scripted the film directed by Rakeysh Mehra. The film has heart aching moments on Indo-Pak partition and the violence around it. While watching the film it was heartening to watch that the scenes of partition were not politicized by vulgar jingoism. But when the character Abdul Khaliq makes an entry in the film, the film starts playing to the gallery by making the character Abdul Khaliq and his coach a two dimensional enemy figure, which has emerged completely from our own stereotypes and not from the imagination of the writer or the filmmaker who in the depiction of partition in the very same film have not played to the gallery but have handled the issue sensitively when it could have easily slipped into the stereotypical jingoistic category. But in the same film these sensitive people, later on, fall to the trap and slip into vulgar jingoism, failing to resist themselves from playing to the gallery. Sad.

When Inzamaamul-Haq was 23 and on a India tour. Those days he was not the Inzi we know of in his later stage of career where he became the calm composed and matured man. During that tour with misty eyes he had expressed, before the television cameras, his desire to go to Hansi in Hayrana, from where his family had migrated in 1947. “I have to go there. I promised my father I would bring him pictures. We have no relatives there but we did have a haveli. Dad said it was near a mazaar,” he said. Later during the tour also kept asking, “Do you think anyone would remember my grandfather Pirzada Zia-Ul-Haq by name there? Are there any Muslims left there anymore? Do you think they have changed the name of the locality?” and adding, “Dad tells me it was called Pirzadgan and others called it mohalla Moghalpura.” Inzamam couldnt make it to Hansi.

It was not just Inzi who wanted to visit the lost love but also Rameez Raza. He wanted to visit his in-laws relatives in Karnal and his own relatives in Jaipur. He said his mother is from Delhi and said he picked up the tehzeeb of Dilli from her. “I would be happy to meet all my relatives here. But where is the time and permission?” Ijaz Ahmed too longed to meet his cousins in Jalandhar but could not meet because there was no permission.

InziInzi, Rameez and Ijaz like Milkha Singh have lives cutting through the partition and revisit to the ‘other’ nation after several years, which once used to be their homeland.

What would be the film be like if a Pakistani would make a film with the story of Inzi, Ijaz or Rameez? Will an Indian filmmaker ever take up these stories to film about? If one does what will be the take of the film?– I wonder. If it gets done and gets done by a Pakistani filmmaker in an anti-India fashion how will the Indians react to it?– I wonder. If someone i.e. Pakistani or an Indian makes a film on the same subject and handles it in a humanistic way without slipping into vulgar jingoism, how would be the public response to it?– I wonder.

Gulzar sahab, who was born in Dina, which is now in Pakistan, recently visited his soil after 70 years! It was an emotional moment for him speaking of which, to my friend from Pakistan- Sheyr Mirza, he said, “All I wanted was a moment of solitude to sit and weep.” But his fame was working against him. The people of Dina had come in large numbers to see their proud son. They had come with food prepared for him. But he couldnt eat. He said, “Dil kuch is tarah se bhar aya tha mera, ke paet bharne ki gunjaish nahi thi (my heart had filled in such a way that there was no space to fill my stomach) and added, “I just touched the salt from their hands, that was enough. That salt from my own nation.” In the same interview he said, when asked if there is any hope to improvement of Indo-Pak relation:

Unka Jo Kaam Hai Ahal-E- Siyasat Wo Jane
Mera Paigam Hai Mohaabat, JahaN Tak Pahunche

(Those whose work is politics, they know;
my message is love, wherever it reaches)

At the end of the interview when Sehyr asked Gulzar sahab what his message to the people of subcontinent was, he said- “Kulya na karo jhapiyan paya karo,” to mean- Don’t fight, embrace each other.

May his words be the guiding light to all, including our screenwriters and filmmakers, because the job of a creative artist is to give wings to the “message of love, wherever it reaches,” and not play it to the gallery.

A Hindustan which bases its patriotism on the slogan, “Pakistan murdaabaad,” that idea of Hindustan can invoke no “Zindaabaad” from me too for my idea of Hindustan is not that. My “zindaabaad” is not with an idea of Pakistan too which bases its patriotism on its hate for India. As said earlier, love that is inseparable from hatred, a love whose driving force is hatred and a love that leads to hatred is a self defeating love and no love at all.

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